Getting the basics right every time

Getting the basics right every time

Customers expect us to get the basics right: providing safe quality drinking water, and dependable sewerage services. We are responsive when things go wrong, fix faults quickly and meet our regulated responsibilities. While delivering services our customers value, we are mindful of keeping prices as low and stable as possible.

Technology for our people in the field

The statewide rollout of our technology program for field-based workers is complete and now a standard business practice. With the formation of the Service Continuity team, which brought together our call centre, fault reporting, community support and statewide dispatch functions, this technology is a key enabler to consolidate and streamline how our network teams operate across metropolitan and regional areas.

There are now 760 field-based workers using the Work Order App, our electronic workflow management tool. This year, 180 people from our alliance partner Allwater were trained in using the Work Order App and it is now core kit for our Technical Services and Trade Waste teams.

Access to our eMap tool, which enables electronic access to asset information in the field, was expanded to include people employed by Allwater. The capability of this tool is being further developed. During 2018-19, the capture in eMap of water shutoffs in the metropolitan area has started, enabling us to notify customers of an unplanned temporary service interruption.

Right across the state, our people are now using a digital scheduling and dispatch system, known as Click. A pilot of Click is underway in the Technical Services team where it has been identified this technology can improve the service we provide for customers.

Further development of our Capacity Planning Tool is underway to enable short- and long-term forecasting, as well as work and resource planning.

With our in-vehicle safety system rolled out to regional areas, in 2018-19 it was successfully  integrated into Click enabling improved dispatch decision making for high priority incidents and occurrences by using current location and resourcing information.

Managing our networks

To ensure delivery of reliable, high quality services to our customers across the state, during 2018-19, we invested $294.6 million in the water network and infrastructure, and $217.8 million in the wastewater network and infrastructure.

Our ongoing water network management program focuses on improving the reliability of supply for our customers. We installed more than 58 kilometres of new water mains: more than 47 kilometres in metropolitan Adelaide and more than 11 kilometres in country areas.

Across our water network of more than 27,000 kilometres, including more than 9,000 kilometres in metropolitan Adelaide and nearly 18,000 kilometres in country South Australia, there were 4,115 main breaks and leaks in 2018-19.

A key measure used to assess and compare the performance of water distribution networks is the rate of breaks per 100 kilometres of water main. The Bureau of Meteorology’s National performance report 2017-18: urban water utilities, released in February 2019, analyses the performance of 85 water utilities across Australia and confirmed our customers experience 13.6 water main breaks per 100 kilometres of water main, which is well below the national average of 19.4, and only bettered by four other major utilities.

We continue to innovate to improve network maintenance and provide reliable services for our customers. In 2018-19 our use of smart network technology increased and incorporates both water and wastewater networks. See more details under Leading the way.

Building proactive maintenance capability

We purchased and implemented five portable vibration analysers plus machinery health  management software for asset health diagnostics and prognostics.

This advanced and highly scientific technology is being used to move assets located across the state from fixed, time-based maintenance to data-driven and condition-based sustainment. By identifying the condition of assets early, we are better placed to minimise impacts on customers’ supply and the network.

Our overall maintenance approach is moving from reactive to proactive management, enabling increased asset reliability and availability in our network supporting the provision of reliable services for our customers.

Yorke Peninsula towns tap into better water

From October 2018, 1,500 people living and working in Warooka and Point Turton on the Yorke Peninsula began receiving a more secure supply of high quality drinking water through a newly constructed pipeline.

The $9 million upgrade resulted in construction of a 38.5 kilometre pipeline, a booster pump station along the route, 1,250 metres of new water mains in Point Turton and re-roofing of the Warooka storage tank.

The towns’ water source was switched from a bore field in the Para-Wurlie Basin in the lower Yorke Peninsula to the River Murray. Our extensive modelling showed the bore field was not adequate to meet future drinking water demand.

Water for Warooka and Point Turton is now treated at either the Morgan or Swan Reach Water Treatment Plant and then transported within the new pipeline, which connects to our existing network at Minlaton, before being piped to homes and businesses.

Increased Morgan water storage provides security, quality and economic benefits

Increased operational flexibility provided by extra storage at our Morgan Water Treatment Plant further improved the quality of drinking water, ensuring demand can continue to be met while achieving long-term cost savings.

A new double-lined earth bank storage was the major component of a $15 million upgrade to the plant, and following completion of construction and relevant testing in March 2019, is now operating as part of the wider water network.

Water storage capacity at the plant has increased from 12 to 42 million litres and with more available storage, water from the plant can be supplied at a steadier rate to meet the needs of the network it feeds.

The more consistent the flow within and out of the plant, the more control we have of our treatment systems, which makes it easier to manage water quality.

The treatment plant and network can essentially operate more independently of each other, giving our operators the ability to schedule energy-intensive activities like pumping at times when electricity prices are favourable.

We use pumps to move water from the plant and along the 358-kilometre Morgan to Whyalla pipeline, which supplies safe, clean drinking water to more than 130,000 people from the state’s mid north all the way to central Eyre Peninsula.

A filter backwash tank and an additional 130 metres of underground pipework at the treatment plant site was also installed as part of the project.

This new infrastructure will help ensure the filtration and disinfection stages in our water treatment process continue to be safe, efficient and ready to meet an expected increase in demand.

New pipeline delivering for Orroroo

Customers in Orroroo have a new, high-quality drinking water supply reaching them through a 36 kilometre water pipeline to Peterborough which connects the town to our River Murray network.

From March 2019, the pipeline has significantly improved the aesthetic quality of the township’s drinking water through the supply of water produced by the Morgan Water Treatment Plant. Through the pipeline, water is sent to a storage tank just outside Orroroo before being delivered to homes and businesses.

The project included the replacement of 17 kilometres of water main between Peterborough and Yongala.

Orroroo’s supply was previously sourced from Walloway Basin groundwater, which although classified under the Australian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines as drinkable, did not meet certain taste qualities due to its natural salinity, a common feature of groundwater in Australia.

Glenelg water main renewal

In October 2018, we completed the installation of 970 metres of new water main at Glenelg, including under the southern side of Jetty Road, to improve the reliability of drinking water supply to local customers and reduce the potential for disruptive breaks and leaks.

Working together with the City of Holdfast Bay, local traders’ association and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, we ensured minimal disruption to traders and people travelling through the area, including a pause in activity to accommodate the summer trade and peak tourist period.

Free-flowing traffic was maintained during the day with work undertaken at night along Jetty Road, and during the day on side roads to minimise noise and traffic inconvenience for residents.

About 370 metres of the new water main installed was under Jetty Road, with the remainder moved to parts of Newmans Lane, Cowper Street and Milton Street.

APY Lands upgrades for a better life

Water infrastructure upgrades at Watinuma in the state’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands were completed in May 2019 to improve the safety and reliability of drinking water for the local communities.

Since taking on management of water services in an additional three Aboriginal communities in the region – Kanpi, Nyapari and Watinuma – as well as government facilities at Murputja in late 2017, we have undertaken works to upgrade the water systems in these remote parts of the state ensuring they are durable and sustainable.

In Watinuma, we replaced water storage, treatment and distribution infrastructure, upgraded two bores – one solar and one electric – and installed smart meters to monitor water use, a new remotely monitored computer system as well as a 10 kilowatt solar and battery, plus a storage facility, to provide back-up power.

The use of solar and battery helps reduce our environmental footprint and costs and, when needed, is a reliable alternative to conventional electricity supply, given the region’s warm climate and plentiful sunlight.

Works have begun in Murputja where we will construct a new water desalination treatment and storage plant which will also supply drinking water to nearby Kanpi and Nyapari.

Throughout we work closely with local people to ensure the outcomes are community-driven, this includes the engagement, planning, design and construction phases, as well as ongoing management and maintenance.

This is part of how we work with Aboriginal communities to support them through innovative solutions to provide safe, clean water, a key focus in our Reconciliation Action Plan.

A boost for water tanks and storage

As part of our $89 million tank rehabilitation and renewal program running from 2016 to 2020, we are investing in 111 water storages across South Australia to maintain the supply of water to customers.

New tank at Coomandook

Construction began in November 2018 on a new nine megalitre drinking water storage tank at Coomandook. The $10 million project improves water security for customers in the Lower Murray, Mallee and Upper South East regions who are supplied through the Tailem Bend to Keith pipeline.

When completed, the pipeline’s storage capacity in the region will increase by about 30 per cent.

The pipeline is the primary source of drinking water for more than 10,000 people and increasing the area’s water security supports the water demand from the growing population and economy.

Whyalla water tank refurbishment

In early 2019 we began refurbishing Whyalla’s tank which, at 12 metres high, has a capacity of 56 million litres, or about 22 Olympic swimming pools of water.

This year’s work follows similar maintenance work on Whyalla’s other identical tank in 2018. The two large storages are important in supplying water to thousands of customers in the area including industrial customers like the large steelworks, so it is vital they support the delivery of safe, clean drinking water for years to come.

Works included internal concrete rehabilitation, new overflow pipework, new external concrete drains, as well as new roof beams and almost 5,000m2 of roof re-sheeting. The tank refurbishment continues into 2019-20.

Increasing water storage on Kangaroo Island

Two nine megalitre concrete water storage tanks on Kangaroo Island are being restored. In 2018-19, one tank was completed and the second tank will be refurbished in 2019-20.

Prior to restoration the tanks were last operational about 20 years ago. When filled they will quadruple treated water storage capacity in the Kingscote water supply network enabling a more reliable service for customers.

Valuable valves improving Murray Bridge water service

In early 2019 we installed four isolation valves on the main pipe supplying drinking water to Murray Bridge, to improve reliability of supply to the regional city and limit impact on the community during any future required works.

Construction was undertaken overnight to minimise impacts with an alternate supply of drinking water arranged for water-dependent businesses.

Having more valves in our network means we can better isolate sections of pipeline for repairs. This reduces the size of areas and number of customers that experience temporary supply interruptions.

Improved flow in Waikerie

Beginning in May 2019, a series of upgrades were undertaken to our drinking water network in Waikerie to further improve the quality and reliability of water supplied across this area.

Work included the installation of about 25 metres of water main to the town’s storage tank. In addition, specialised valves now better manage water pressure and modifications were made to the network where water leaves the treatment plant before being delivered to customers. The upgrade ensures consistent flow and pressure of the water in the network.

All works are expected to be complete in 2019-20.

Extra desalination to secure Kangaroo Island’s long-term water needs

An additional desalination plant at Penneshaw was identified as the preferred option to secure Kangaroo Island’s long-term water supply, in a refreshed plan developed together with the local community.

The plan, released in late 2018, confirms the existing Middle River and Penneshaw networks have adequate capacity to meet current needs and sustain growth until around 2036, unless a major development accelerates a step-change in water demand.

Under this organic growth scenario, development of the new water source will likely be actioned from 2030.

First created in 2009 and reviewed annually, our long-term plan for Kangaroo Island’s water supply was significantly updated in 2018-19 to reflect current weather and climatic data, water supply and demand projections, and community priorities.

We currently operate two water supply systems for customers on Kangaroo Island – the Middle River, which supplies an average of 356 million litres of water across 1,500 customer connections, and the 400 kilolitre per day capacity Penneshaw Desalination Plant for approximately 300 customers on the eastern end of the island.

In time, expanded desalination capacity at Penneshaw could serve the entire island and provide additional benefits including options for new areas to connect to the mains network.

Port Lincoln’s sewerage network upgrade

The three-year program of sewerage network upgrades to support residential and industrial growth in Port Lincoln reached its final stages in June when construction started on a new anaerobic digester and associated infrastructure at The Port Lincoln Wastewater Treatment Plant.

At a cost of $18 million, the new wastewater treatment infrastructure will increase the site’s ability to receive waste produced by local industry, as well as reducing methane emissions and improving odour management.

Working together with the local industry we identified a sustainable solution, paving the way for continued expansion of Port Lincoln’s major economic contributors.

The sewerage network upgrade project is expected to be completed by late 2020.

New trickle filters for Port Adelaide wastewater system

A $2 million-plus system to reduce and manage odour from the Port Adelaide Wastewater Pump Station was completed in December 2018.

The solution was implemented to benefit local residents and with a similar system already in use at our Parafield Gardens facility, it has proven to be a highly-effective filtering system that benefits odour management. It has a three-stage bacterial odour control process requiring the installation of a 12.1 tonne, 13-metre-high bio-trickling filter and three smaller bio-filters.

The bio-trickling filter uses bacteria to remove the odorous gas from the wastewater. As the air rises through the tank, water feeds the bacteria which eats away at the odour and eventually releases treated, clean air through the top of the unit.

Receiving an average of 22.5 million litres of sewage every day, the Port Adelaide Wastewater Pump Station is a vital facility serving more than 30,000 homes and businesses in Adelaide’s western suburbs.

Throughout, the design and installation process, we worked together with the local community to keep them updated and ensure their expectations were met.

Improving sewerage services in Adelaide’s north-west

The upgrade of sewerage services in north Le Fevre continued in 2018-19, as part of the $12 million works to support future growth in this area.

This project includes refurbishment of the Largs North Wastewater Pump Station and installation of about 4.5 kilometres of new sewer main connecting this site to its counterpart in Ethelton.

It has been undertaken to ensure we continue to provide a dependable sewerage service for our customers as the local area grows through new developments. There are additional benefits with improved odour management and reduced potential for overflows.

The new pipeline was installed in early 2019 and works are due to be completed in 2019-20.

Improving water aesthetics

In 2018-19, we undertook a number of initiatives to improve our customers perception of drinking water quality.

Our ongoing work in this area has seen customer satisfaction with drinking water quality lift to 74 per cent in 2018-19, up from 68 per cent in 2017-18.

Technical improvements included:

  • Changing the disinfection process for the Myponga township’s water supply from chlorine to chloramine. This had a positive impact on customer perceptions of the taste and smell of their drinking water.
  • A more proactive and effective addition of powdered activated carbon at water treatment plants to remove the earthy/musty taste and odour that can be associated with algal blooms at surface water reservoirs.
  • Proactive flushing of key areas of the metropolitan Adelaide network to remove pipeline sediment and reduce the number of dirty water occurrences customers may experience.
  • A pipeline connecting Warooka, Point Turton and Orroroo to our River Murray supply and improving the quality of drinking water in these townships.

Engagement with our customers continued including:

  • Take the Tap Test, and You Be the Judge activities, giving the community the opportunity to taste and provide feedback on tap water sourced from various parts of South Australia. Analysis of this feedback continues to improve our understanding of the water tastes and smells our customers prefer, which helps inform future investment in our water network and treatment management.
  • Proactive media to improve our customers’ awareness of drinking water quality management and the benefits of drinking tap water.
  • The installation of ten drinking water fountains in the community this year, following installation of four in 2017-18.

Trade waste servicing goes digital

Management of grease arrestor servicing has improved with the development and rollout of an app for use by liquid waste haulers, improving trade waste customer monitoring and compliance.

In 2018-19, the grease arrestors and settling pits of all trade waste customers were tagged with a code haulers use to collect pumping information. The new system provides us with data on the pump out frequency enabling us to better manage each customer’s compliance with trade waste discharge authorisation conditions. Customers who are not servicing their grease arrestors, or whose pre-treatment devices are not compliant will be readily identified for follow up by our Trade Waste team. Improved monitoring and compliance also helps reduce the number of fat chokes in the sewerage network associated with poorly serviced or absent grease arrestors.

Liquid waste hauler companies received training to use the new system which came into effect 1 July 2019.

Ensuring service continuity and support when things go wrong

The Service Continuity team has continued to develop its capability  to respond to temporary service interruptions. Since January 2019, the team has been operating 24/7 providing a dedicated service and enhanced customer experience across the state.

To achieve this, we have:

  • Recruited and cross-trained our people in the new Service Impact Management role.
  • Created a single, multi-function centre which manages fault calls, scheduling, dispatch and monitoring of work, data and information management, and reporting.
  • Created a single point of contact to coordinate a statewide service for our customers and the community.
  • Embraced new technology available through our customer relationship management systems which provides us with a single view of customers,  work and available resources.
  • Improved notifications for customers experiencing temporary service interruptions.

With the service continuity initiative completed in April 2019, improvements now continue as part of our normal business operations.

Price increase held to CPI

The 2019-20 water and sewerage price adjustments were capped at 1.3 per cent on average, to reflect the Consumer Price Index (CPI)*, and our ongoing commitment to keeping water and sewerage prices for South Australians as low and stable as possible.

The average metropolitan residential customer receiving water and sewerage services will see an  annual increase of about $16**.

Prices take into account a range of factors, including the cost to provide, sustain and enhance the delivery of water and sewerage services across the state.

Statewide pricing ensures most of our customers pay the same price per kilolitre of water, no matter where they live or the actual cost of providing the service to that location. Sewerage prices, based on the capital value of a customer’s property as set by the Valuer-General,  are also designed so average bills are as consistent as possible across the state.

Our performance compares favourably with our interstate counterparts. Our annual residential water and sewerage bill (based on 200 kilolitres) was the eighth cheapest among 15 similar-sized Australian utilities, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s National performance report 2017-18: urban water utilities.

* March Consumer Price Index, All Groups Index Number (weighted average of eight capital cities) published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to align to ESCOSA’s 2016-20 revenue determination.

** Based on the average metropolitan residential water use of 184 kilolitres and property value of $467,000.

Maintenance on the Murray

From July through to September 2018, work to upgrade the Tauwitchere Barrage Lock at the Murray Mouth was undertaken as part of the essential maintenance schedule on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The barrage is one of the little known structures along the River Murray with only about 250 boats and other vessels navigating through each year.

At about 3.5 by 13 metres, it is one of the smaller structures, yet it plays an important part in the wider river system.

It is a small hand-operated lock which is very rare in Australia. The lock upgrade was undertaken to make the operating procedure quicker and easier.

Work included the installation of new valves to reduce opening and closing times by up to 80 per cent, and repainting the lock chamber gates.

Tauwitchere is one of five barrages, as part of the wider Goolwa Barrages system, which extends from Sir Richard Peninsula in the west to Pelican Point on the northern side of the Murray Mouth. The other barrages include Goolwa, Mundoo, Boundary Creek and Ewe Island.

Further up the river, Lock 3 at Overland Corner was re-opened for navigation in September 2018, following the completion of a $700,000 refurbishment of the River Murray structure.

In just three months, our teams:

  • repainted lock gates
  • replaced gate seals and bottom fenders
  • rehabilitated upstream and downstream valves and tunnels
  • replaced all cathodic protection systems.

The lock was emptied while these sustainment works were completed and then gradually refilled in September to its usual eight million litres of water.

Ensuring information security

We continue our investment in cyber security and verified our performance standards by engaging in regular external reviews and testing. In 2018-19, Board Directors, General Managers and Senior Managers participated in specialised cyber security training.

Build organisational resilience

To embed our organisational resilience, we have developed a Resilience Capability Plan which is now being implemented.

This work strengthens and improves our mitigation and management of disruptive events and incidents to create opportunities for continual improvement to the reliable services we provide to our customers.

The plan focuses on developing maturity in:

  • organisational awareness
  • planning and decision making
  • risk and governance
  • performance management
  • communication
  • major incident management and technology tool
  • business continuity
  • training, exercises and lessons learned.

In 2018-19 we have:

  • Shifted our thinking towards a holistic organisational resilience approach.
  • Built resilience into all levels of our corporate planning process.
  • Brought the risk and resilience teams together and begun the process to integrate our risk and resilience frameworks to include temporary service disruption-related risks, in accordance with AS/NZ 5050.
  • Started building resilience into relevant performance management measures.
  • Communicated with key groups within the business to build awareness about resilience.
  • Introduced a simple method for managing major service interruptions and trained key senior leaders in how to apply it.

Improved asset management

Work continued in 2018-19 to embed our Asset Management System and integrate it across the business. This follows recent work to increase the maturity of our asset management.

Our strategic asset management approach ensures performance is continually reviewed and improved. A team realignment this year, and the creation of an Asset Management System team, support delivery of this initiative as we embed the system into our business.

Maturing the way assets are managed helps us strengthen the customer and stakeholder experience by maintaining the desired levels of service and raising the value of the services we provide, without increasing our expenditure.